Our new arrivals are finally here. We are moving away from smaller oak barrels to the more traditional large casks called "botti" in Italian. Each of these giant botti are the equivalent of eleven of the smaller barrels and hold about 275 cases. Unlike smaller barrels which have a life of five years, these botti can last well over fifty. We are moving to do this as the quality of our grapes continues to evolve and get more complex and we don't want to mask it in strong oak. We have three now and expect add another four next year and more thereafter. We are incredibly excited to move forward by going back into history.
Raffaldini has recently acquired several botti, or large oak wine casks, from Gamba, the foremost manufacturer of botti outside of Turin, Italy. Even though the factory currently utilizes the most modern technology, the Piedmontese cask construction method has not changed over time: meticulous wood selection, all-natural seasoning, and a curvature running the entire length of the staves. Meaning that they have the same thickness and the heads and at the height of the faucet hole.
This increases the casks strength over time and allows for the renewal of the inner surface by shavings the wood without reducing the stability of the stave. The bottom of the cask is concave in order to make them as resistant as possible from the Iiquid they will contain. The heads are curved in two directions to support the pressure created when full without the use of cross boards.
Gamba makes its products exclusively from oak and specifically the Quercus genus, which consists of no less than three hundred species. But a qualified cooper uses only three of them: Quercus Pendunculata, Quercus Sessilis and Quercus Alba (American White Oak). Quercus Pendunculata and Sessilis can both be found in the same forests in France.
The Quercus Alba species can be found in many regions throughout North America though we mainly source our American White Oak from forest in Northern Iowa, Western Illinois or Minnesota. The accelerated use of Quercus Alba over the last few years is largely due to a better understanding of seasoning and advancement in toasting techniques.
In addition to the origin of the wood, another important factor is the soil; where this variety of oak grows. Exposure to the sun, wind and rain affects its texture and ultimately its grain, as well as its aromas.
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